811 Underground Service Alert
Do you ever call 811 to have an Underground Service Alert done on areas you work?
Most places it doesn't matter--you're clearly in the woods with no utilities around.
But in a few places, we know there are utilities. We'll have the land owner call 811 to have a USA check done, but what do we tell them? The closest option I see is that we're doing landscaping, and we'll put out some chalk/flour/flags in the rough area we care about. It's unlikely we'll dig more than 1' deep in this area but we can't be sure.
Anything else to think about?
I've got two locations I dealt with buried utilities. One place I was running a mini-ex build on land the city has a force main on. I didn't run any checks there because the main T's at one point and runs all the way across the property north-south and east-west, and had solid information no other utilities were on the property. The city engineers gave me locations and depth information on the mains and I was able to determine that, with a 4 foot minimum depth, I wasn't going to contact any of the mains, in part because I would only be crossing them in 3 places, all relatively flat.
The other place I dealt with this was a clearly marked underground natural gas pipeline. It's all hand tool work on that site, and once again, depth ruled out any tool to pipeline contact unless someone went to try and dig a full sized grave somewhere. In general, the only place I've found utilities to be a problem was with a phone line run across a corner of a park. The phone company doesn't bury lines from a ground box to a house very deep, and someone did cut a phone line with a shovel. while borrowing for a berm one day.
Always call. Its digging.
You likely have a flagged line, give them clear concise directions and leave it up to them.You may have to get multiple tickets depending on how they go about it and how your site is. Don't skip.
We do it, and lots of times they come out and go "that goes into the woods!?" and say we are fine without looking. Now its on them.
I use to work in the engineering/construction field prior to this. I've seen what happens when guys hit lines. Its dangerous and irresponsible. Always get a locate.
Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades.
You'd be surprised where legacy utilities are located. And don't count on the owners to visibly mark them on the surface or to maintain those markings! Regarding 1-foot, on one locate visit, there was a phone line running thru a young forest only about 18-inches deep - locator says it's not unusual for some to not bury to spec because "who would be digging out here" (sound familiar :-).
As previous poster noted, keeping a valid ticket puts the liability on them. It's easy to do, especially if your corridor has already been marked for environmental review et al. Not a time-suck either - in most jurisdictions, locate services have to mark within 48 hours of a call.
Whether risk of life or finances, you don't want to hit a utility (network lines = big bucks!). In some place they will come find you if you don't call - gas companies routinely fly over their corridors and if they see you out there they will pay a visit.
Once, we had to drive the mini further away just to cross a gaz pipeline that was real close to the surface because of the bedrock. Was quite happy we called that time. Was not even digging there, just crossing to reach the jobsite.
Also found old water municipal main under 9-10in about 9km away from the village. With water in it. Never been so scared to hit something... and that thing wasn't even supposed to exist according to 811.
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